Desktop version

Home arrow Philosophy arrow The handy philosophy answer book

Epistemology and metaphysics after logical positivism

What was new in metaphysics and epistemology after logical positivism?

Metaphysics and epistemology made a new empirical start that was thoroughly informed by science. P.F. Strawson (1919-2006) defended a common sense metaphysics, and, like Wilfred Sellars (1912-1989), he developed the idea of a common perspective that was opposed to science. Strawson did much to reclaim for philosophy a common sense approach to the world, which the logical positivists would have thought was meaningless, because it was not about science. Nelson Goodman (1906-1998) resurrected the perennial problem of induction—reasoning that begins with experience and builds toward knowledge. W.V.O. Quine (1908-2000) uniquely redirected the course of twentieth century philosophy by combining pragmatist insights with a rigorous philosophical method. Also, perhaps partly as a result of Quine's work, Hilary Putnam (1926-) reinterpreted pragmatist epistemology by applying its insights to questions of truth in the sciences.

Who was P.F. Strawson?

Sir Peter Frederick (P.F.) Strawson (1919-2006) was educated at Oxford University, where he became a professor in 1968. He disagreed with Bertrand Russell's (18721970) theory of definite descriptions because the statement "The king of France is bald" presupposes the truth of "There exists a king of France." This created problems because if there is no king of France then "The king of France is bald," is neither true nor false, or it is not a statement.

Although Strawson was strongly influenced by ordinary language philosophy, he was less interested in linguistic usage than in implied conceptual systems and categories of existence in ordinary reality. In The Bounds of Sense (1966) he argues for a "manifest image," or common (shared) way of understanding the world.

Who was Wilfred Sellars?

Wilfred Sellars' (1912-1989) goal of combining analytic philosophy with logical positivism, resulted in his founding the journal Philosophical Studies. Educated at Michigan and Harvard universities, he spent his professional life after 1963 at the University of Pittsburgh. His work centered on the problems of reconciling the scientific world view with our ordinary conception of ourselves as having minds and intentions in a world with meanings, sounds, and colors. Sellars developed his resolution in a union of empiricism and philosophy of mind, which introduced the philosophy of "functionalism." His main books include Science, Perception and Reality (1963), Philosophical Perspectives (1967), and Essays in Philosophy and Its History (1974).

Why was the idea of a manifest image important?

Those analytic twentieth century philosophers who explicated a "manifest image" of the world sought to reconcile the common view of the world with the scientific view. The term was coined by Wilfred Sellars (1912-1989).

Who was Nelson Goodman?

Nelson Goodman (1906-1998) criticized the idea that similarity existed in the world independently of our linguistic inclinations. Goodman was educated at Harvard, was an art dealer in Boston from 1929 to 1941, and became a Harvard professor in 1968. In his The Structure of Appearance (1951) he developed Rudolf Carnap's (1891-1970) insights about the logical structure of the world. Later, he came to the conclusion that there are many different world structures, depending on the perspectives of observers. In Fact, Fiction and Forecast (1954) Goodman extended his argument that structure in nature depends on our interests with his famous "grue" example.

Found a mistake? Please highlight the word and press Shift + Enter  
< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >

Related topics